Provide's Rosy 2006

The online flower vendor beats by a penny and surpasses fiscal-year 2006 guidance.
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Updated from 4:55 p.m. EDT

Provide Commerce

(PRVD)

, the online flower vendor that preannounced strong fourth-quarter results earlier this month, on Wednesday still beat analysts' recently raised expectations.

Though the company also gave guidance for fiscal year 2006 that surpassed current analysts' estimates, its outlook for first-quarter results was mixed, with earnings projected to come in lower than expectations.

After initially dipping in recent after-hours trading, shares of Provide recently jumped $2.01, or 9.2%, to $29.15; the stock closed up 45 cents, or 1.7%, at $27.14

Under generally accepted accounting principles, San Diego, Calif.-based Provide reported net income of $4.9 million, or 36 cents a share, on sales of $66.5 million in the fourth quarter, which ended June 30.

That was up from net income of $4.2 million, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $51.9 million a year earlier.

Excluding charges, Provide earned pro forma net income of $5.3 million, or 39 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, up from pro forma net income of $4.7 million, or 35 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts were most recently forecasting that the company would earn 35 cents a share on $64.1 million in revenue in the fourth quarter. Analysts raised their estimates after the company

preannounced upside to its results earlier this month.

The company's results released Wednesday were at the high end of the company's range given earlier this month. At that time Provide said it expected earnings of $4.6 million to $5 million, or 33 cents to 36 cents a share, on sales of $66 million.

On a pro forma basis, the company said it expected earnings of 36 cents to 39 cents a share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 33 cents a share on sales of $63.4 million at that time.

Provide expects first-quarter revenue to range from $25.5 million and $26.3 million; a first-quarter GAAP net loss ranging from 7 cents to 9 cents a share; and a pro forma net loss ranging from 2 cents to 4 cents a share. Analyst estimates last called for Provide to break even on a pro forma basis on $25.2 million in sales in the first quarter.

For the full fiscal year 2006, Provide expects sales to range from $216 million to $224 million; GAAP net income to range from 63 cents to 71 cents a share; and pro forma net income to range from 93 cents to $1.02 a share.

That outlook is higher than analyst estimates, which were pegging earnings at 95 cents a share on sales of $215.7 million for fiscal 2006.

Provide buys its products directly from the grower -- eliminating middlemen such as wholesalers -- to sell flowers on its ProFlowers.com Web site that are fresher but cost less than those of competitors such as

FTD.com

and

1-800-Flowers.com

(FLWS) - Get Report

.

The company, likened to Dell by some analysts and investors, recently applied that model to expand into meats and fruits.

Provide added 472,000 new customers in the fourth quarter, representing a 27% increase from a year ago. The company closed the year with a total 4.3 million customers in its database, a 39% jump from 3.1 million a year earlier.

Return customers generated 55% of sales in the quarter, up from 54% last year. The average order price also climbed to $49.56 in the fourth quarter from $48.43 a year earlier.

On a postclose conference call, CEO Bill Strauss said the company's fruit and meat business is currently breaking even and would have to reach $20 million to begin turning a profit.

About half of the customers of the meat and fruit business are customers of the company's flower business, while the other half are new customers, Strauss said.

Those newer businesses, meanwhile, enjoy higher average order values than the flower business -- about $75 for fruit and $80 for meats. Strauss said he expects sales in the fruit and meat business to less than double in fiscal '06.